Archive for cleaners

Details of mitie-immigration raid

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on Wednesday, 29 July, 2009 by bristolnoborders

“When she arrived in this room, the manager Donna Sidley and another woman called Ivon were laughing their heads off.”

Seven cleaners were detained after a raid by immigration police on 14th July, which took place with the complicity of Mitie and Willis. Among our detained sisters and brothers are Alejandro, Hermes Ayala, José Sorriso, Karina Cruz, Cintia, Sonia and Sebastián Desolsa. We are demanding that their salaries are paid and that they win 20 days holiday.

Her name is Lidia, and she said that at 4am there was going to be a meeting about chemicals in the Willis building, and that at 5 in the morning in the basement they would be given times for day-time and early morning shifts. She says that she had a bad feeling about the times of this meeting. When she arrived in this room, the manager Donna Sidley and another woman called Ivon were laughing their heads off. Everyone started coming in, with the illegal workers on one side and the legal immigrants on the other – the undocumented workers already separated out – and Donna took a chemical bottle and said for what purpose this or that bottle served.

Everyone was looking around at each other, some asking each other what was happening and why she was asking all this, and the legal workers on the other side of the room were only looking amongst themselves, knowing that immigration were coming to seize their own workmates, and said nothing. But they did tell the undocumented workers that there was a table full of drinks, things to eat and coffee, and they thought it was for them.

Not even 15 minutes had passed when police started to enter from doors on either side of the room, saying from immigration. No-one moved. One of the police had a file, which only had the names of the illegal workers and photocopies of their documents, but not the names of the legal workers. They called the workers’ names one by one and interrogated them, saying where they had got the documents and where they lived. Many people were crying as they were told off and insulted, and all the while Donna was smiling and jokily making comments to the other police, who smiled too. They insulted the workers and wouldn’t let them leave their seats, and they threatened those who were crying. They then forced them to sign papers which they had not even read: many did not want to, but they insulted them and frightened them, making them scared. They did not know what they were signing. The legal workers were allowed to leave but the others were left behind without being allowed to go to the toilet. Lidia was crying and said that she felt that a policeman was shouting at her aggressively, telling her to shut up. Then the police went over to eat and have the coffee and other drinks, making comments and laughing enthusiastically, making fun of the workers, and Donna and the other woman were also making fun of them, and all the time smiling. The workers watched them, eating and enjoying making fun of them, and they would not let them talk, only to stay silent. No-one gave them even a glass of water even though it was almost 11am by now: the police were enjoying themselves with the manager and gave the workers nothing to eat. Then they were taken away and put in two vans. The black workers were separated from them and the others do not know what happened to them next. They were taken to London Bridge, and then Lidia travelled throughout the whole day, to Liverpool. There, at 2am, they took her to the detention centre. She knew two women there. One woman was released because her husband had papers; the other was deported.

 A public meeting has been called by the Labour Representation Commitee on Tuesday 4th August to discuss solidarity with cleaners in struggle. This once agan raises the question of why senior figures in the Unite United Left have not so far been prepared to offer their solidarity to union members in struggle.

Download pdf leaflet here: http://thecommune.files.wordpress.com/2009/07/lrc-cleaners-forum-leaflet.pdf Tuesday 4th August, 6:30pm Somerstown Community Centre, 150 Ossulston Street, London, NW1 1EE, (5 minutes from Euston Station) In recent years brave union organising efforts have been mounted by migrant workers to demand basic rights and a living wage. A number of cleaning companies have responded by sacking union members and activists; they have colluded with the Border Agency in immigration raids to break organised workers. This is an urgent issue for the whole labour movement – come and discuss what should be done. MR Homepage: http://thecommune.wordpress.com/2009/07/29/testimony-of-a-mitie-worker-in-an-immigration-detention-centre/#more-3133

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Demo Report and more details of immigration raid

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on Monday, 20 July, 2009 by bristolnoborders

New Image

Over 70 people demonstrated outside the Willis Building in support of the detained Mitie Cleaners  – and the continued persecution of organised migrant labour.

More details on raid:

7 Cleaners get detain in an immigration raid with the complicity of MITIE and WILLIS.

Is very similar to what happened at SOAS University on the 12th of June where 40 immigration officers detain 9 cleaners after a suppose meeting organized by SOAS management and ISS cleaning company.

Chronology of the events of the 14th of July in the Willis Building

1. Days before, Ivon one of MITIE managers in Willis send a letter of invitation to the 2 shifts of workers for a chemical training course, some had to go at 5 am and others at 8:30 am

2. On the 14 of July the workers from the night shift (10 pm to 6 am) were receiving the training when immigration officers raid the room and detain the undocumented workers. After at 8:30 detain others cleaners at their arrival to the building.

3. As a result of the raid: 1 Ecuadorian detain, Ricardo Benites, 5 Bolivians, Hermes Ayala, Jose Sorriso, Karina Cruz, Cintia, Sonia and 1 Brazilian, Sebastian desolsa.
4. On the 15 of July some detains where taking to a detention centre in Dover. Until today we don’t know if they will be deported.

Mitie – More Migrant Cleaner Raids

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on Tuesday, 14 July, 2009 by bristolnoborders

Today the Cleaners at Willis building get invite by Mitie for a chemicals training course, when all the cleaners were ready for the course, immigration officers raid the room and detain 3 cleaners, 1 Ecuadorian and 2 Bolivians. We invite every body to support the next demonstration in front of Willis building, for the reinstatement of the 4 cleaners and against the immigration raids. Friday 17 July 1 p.m. in front of Willis Building, 51 Lime street or at 12:30 in Liverpool street station in front of Macdonals. !No one is Ilegal, papers for all! Venceremos

Migrant Cleaners on the March in Athens

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on Tuesday, 7 July, 2009 by bristolnoborders

Article about solidarity with Constantina Kouneva, the 44-year-old Bulgarian general secretary of Athens’s association of cleaners and domestic staff who was attacked by assailants who threw acid in her face in December:

Cleaners of the autonomous PEKOP union march in Athens demanding that the case on the assassination attempt against their secretary, K. Kouneva, with sulfuric acid remains open.

Cleaners of the PEKOP union alongside more than 1500 solidarity protesters took to the sizzling streets of Athens on Thursday 2/7 to protest against the decision of the district attorney to close the case of the assassination attempt against Konstantina Kouneva, the cleaner union’s secretary last December by corporate thugs. Kouneva was attacked outside her home and forced to drink sulfuric acid which destroyed her digestive tract and large portions of her face; she is still struggling for her life in hospital. The protest march, which took place in a context of media efforts to recuparate the Kouneva issue, demanded an immediate end to “slave-trade in the public and private sectors”.

Meanwhile tensions in Athens remain high. On Thursday yet another police effort to impose an apartheid in the central square of Aegaleo, a proletarian suburb that has seen several fascist attacks against Pakistanis last year, with nazis attacking the workers in their very homes, was met with fierce resistance of bystanders who stopped the cops from brutalising and arresting immigrants. The tension rose further when the heckled policemen arrested an 80 year old woman who was trying to stop their racist attack. The angry crowd snatched the elderly woman from the cops, surrounded the police cars and forced the uniformed racists and a couple of their neo-nazi collaborators out of the square.

At the same time in down-town Athens the High Court Council came under attack by anarchists who smashed and burned the car of the incoming President of the Council, an infamous right-wing government crony. Earlier, antifascists had sabotaged the electric facilities of Stohos, the leading fascist weekly which has been promoting widespread anti-muslim, anti-jewish and anti-imigrant pogroms. As a result of the sabotage, the weekly issue of the bigot paper was not published causing big economic damages to the nazis.

http://libcom.org/news/cleaners-march-athens-demanding-kouneva-case-remain-open-03072009

SOAS cleaners update

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on Sunday, 5 July, 2009 by bristolnoborders

SOAS cleaners update

http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2009/07/433893.html

More news is emerging of just how dehumanising and brutal have been the effects of the immigration raids at SOAS organised by external contractor ISS shortly after the cleaners won union recognition and pay rises to the level of the London living wage.

One of the UNISON members picked up, who was traumatised by the clandestine nature of the raid and the appearance of around 40 officers in full body armour, arrived back in Bogota, 48 hours after the raid, wearing the same clothes she was arrested in and with 75pence in her pocket. Disorientated and distressed, she was simply dumped in Bogota—hundreds of miles from her home town without any concern as to how she could get back to her family.

Another of the nine, Rosa Perez, was deported on Tuesday 30th without being given the 72 hours notice that is required—she had no chance to say goodbye to workmates who had been visiting her in detention or to receive the collections that SOAS staff had been making to help with her return.

One of the nine, Marina Silva, remains in detention at Yarlswood—where detainees are on hunger strikes and other forms of protest because of the appalling conditions and the decision to freeze their bank accounts, which contain all the wages earned at hard jobs like cleaning or fruit picking. Marina, who is 63, has claimed asylum because her husband was murdered in an honour killing at home and she was threatened until she left. Having lost the breadwinner and in fear, Marina eventually came to live and work in the UK a few years ago. She is very frightened in Yarlswood where her detention disrupted medical tests.

They are joined inside by other workers who have been set up in a similar way. In one case at the Picadiily Backpacker hotel in London on June 17, six members of staff were trapped by UKBA on the sixth floor. The five men were taken away and made to sign a document without understanding it. They were then deported without being able to take any possessions, access their money or contact their families. The remaining worker is at Yarls Wood.

ACTION POINTS

1. Please send urgent faxes immediately to Rt Hon Alan Johnson MP, Secretary of State for the Home Office asking that Marina Silva is released from detention and given permission to remain in the UK. Please use the “model letter” at
http://freesoascleaners.blogspot.com/2009/06/send-this-letter-to-home-office-now.html

You can copy/amend this or write your own version. (No Home Office reference numbers but fax anyway).

Fax: 020 8760 3132 / + 44 20 8760 3132 if you are faxing from outside UK)

Emails: Privateoffice.external@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

UKBApublicenquiries@UKBA.gsi.gov.uk

“CIT – Treat Official” CITTO@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

2. Ring your MP and express your concern for these individuals and ask them to pass on the message to Alan Johnson. You can get your MPs details from http://www.theyworkforyou.com or ring 020 7219 3000 and ask for their office. Your MP can ask a question about this or can lay down an early day motion.

3. Ask your trade union branch/faith group/community association etc to also take action

Any faxes/E-mails sent to Alan Johnson or to your union branch/faith group/community association:

Please copy to SOAS UNISON, fax: 020 7898 4039. or an2@soas.ac.uk

FREE THE SOAS CLEANERS!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on Monday, 15 June, 2009 by bristolnoborders

SOAS directorate block occupied over brutal deportation of SOAS cleaners

Occupation of SOAS

Occupation of SOAS

University cleaners who won living wage detained after dawn raid

Students and allies at the University of London’s School of School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) have occupied the university today to protest against managers’ attacks on migrant workers.

Nine cleaners from the university were taken into detention after a dawn raid by immigration police on Friday.

Five have already been deported, and the others could face deportation within days. One has had a suspected heart attack and was denied access to medical assistance and even water. One was over 6 months pregnant. Many have families who have no idea of their whereabouts.

The cleaners won the London Living Wage and trade union representation after a successful “Justice for Cleaners” campaign that united workers of all backgrounds and student activists.
Activists believe the raid is managers’ “revenge” for the campaign.

Immigration officers were called in by cleaning contractor ISS, even though it has employed many of the cleaners for years. Cleaning staff were told to attend an ‘emergency staff meeting’ at 6.30am on Friday (June 12).

This was used as a false pretext to lure the cleaners into a closed space from which the immigration officers were hiding to arrest them.

More than 40 officers were dressed in full riot gear and aggressively undertook interrogations and then escorted them to the detention centre. Neither legal representation nor union support were present due to the secrecy surrounding the action. Many were unable to communicate let alone fully understand what was taking place due to the denial of interpreters.

SOAS management were complicit in the immigration raid by enabling the officers to hide in the meeting room beforehand and giving no warning to them.

The cleaners were interviewed one by one. They were allowed no legal or trade union representation, or even a translator (many are native Spanish speakers).

The cleaners are members of the Unison union at SOAS. They recently went out on strike (Thursday 28 May) to protest the sacking of cleaner and union activist Jose Stalin Bermudez.

The occupation has issued a list of demands to SOAS management:

1. We call on the directorate to request the secretary of state to immediately release the detainees and to prevent the deportation of the three cleaners who are still in detention in the UK.
2. For the directorate to release a public statement condemning what has happened to the SOAS cleaners and calling for their immediate release and return.
3. To campaign for the return of the cleaners who have already been deported.
4. To bring all contract staff in house. SOAS should not use contractors, ISS or others.
5. To keep immigration officers from entering campus under ANY circumstances or other forms of collaboration with immigration or police. Universities are for education not for state violence and oppression.
6. A year’s wage as reparations for all detained and deported staff.
7. To hold accountable SOAS managers who were complicit in facilitating the raid and detention of the cleaners, refusing to aid a sick worker and a pregnant woman.
8. To reinstate Jose Stalin Bermudez, the SOAS UNISON branch chair.
9. To respect the right to organise in Trade Unions unimpeded.
10. To provide space and resources for a public meeting to build support for the SOAS 9 and other migrants, in education and beyond, affected by immigration control and racism.
11. Amnesty for all those involved.

One of the detained cleaners today stated, “We’re honest people not animals. We are just here to earn an honest living for our families. SOAS management are being unfair.”

Joanne, one of the occupying students said,
“Universities should be sanctuaries: places free of violence and aggression. SOAS’s reputation as a university has been tainted today due to the complicity of state brutality in the arrest of the cleaners.”

Graham Dyer, lecturer in Economics of Developing Countries and SOAS branch chair of lecturers’ union UCU, said:
“Our fight has united lecturers, staff and students and has rocked SOAS management. Those managers are now lashing out.

“It is a disgrace that SOAS management saw fit to use a seat of learning to intimidate migrant workers. This is their underhand revenge and we will do all we can to stop migrant workers paying the price.”

The campaign to stop the deportation is supported by Tony Benn, MPs John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn, film director Ken Loach, and many trade unionists and student activists.

John McDonnell MP said:
“As living wage campaigns are building in strength, we are increasingly seeing the use of immigration statuses to attack workers fighting against poverty wages and break trade union organising.

“The message is that they are happy to employ migrant labour on poverty wages, but if you complain they will send you back home. It is absolutely shameful.”

Ken Loach said:

“This raid is the action of a bully. Migrant workers are amongst the most vulnerable – poorly paid and far from home.

“Recent action by Unison to secure better wages and conditions at SOAS was good news. Now we wonder if the SOAS cleaners are being targeted because they dared to organise as trade unionists.”

The current occupation is a reflection of broad outrage against these actions by all sectors of society. This raid is widely seen as a continuation of current trends to remove immigrant labour and to maintain impossibly low wages.

Cleaning contractor ISS used the same tactics against tube cleaners that went on strike with the result that key activists were deported. The use of immigration law is bering used for union busting.

contact: Clare Solomon on 07958 034 181
Email: freesoascleaners@googlemail.com
Blog: freesoascleaners.blogspot.com

CLEANER ACTIVIST ARRESTED IN COMPANY ENTRAPMENT

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on Thursday, 7 May, 2009 by bristolnoborders


Many of you will know Alberto, a Colombian activist who worked as a cleaner at Schroders in the City of London who has recently been involved in the Mitie/Willis dispute and has spoken at various union branches and forums in recent months including the NSSN.

This morning after attending a construction workers’ demo at the Olympic site he was called to a meeting at his employer, the cleaning contractor Lancaster, at 9.15am. Upon arrival he was met by four policemen, inxcluding immigration police, and arrested on suspicion of working under false papers.

The police took Alberto in handcuffs to his house, questioning him on why he had socialist papers in his bags. He also had a DVD about the Tamil struggle about his person (having been given it for free on a demo) and the police said that they would have to consider this “terrorist” material in his case. All these materials were confiscated and his house searched before he was taken to the Peckham police station.

In reality, Alberto had come to the UK in 1998 on a student visa, and when it expired in 2002 his employer Lancaster told him to assume a false name. Only now after he has become a leading labour activist has this same employer chosen to raise the issue of his immigration status, involving the police.

Fortunately Alberto escaped with a caution and was released by 8pm. But this was a clear case of victimisation and Alberto has now lost all the benefits accrued during 10 years’ employment, such as the right to redundancy pay, as well as his job itself (he was until recently on suspension with pay).

Alberto is adamant that “the fight is only just beginning”.
WILLIS BUILDING CLEANERS: 3 MONTHS AND STILL FIGHTING

3 women – 1 man

2 Latin Americans – 2 Africans

1 shop steward – 3 union members

4 FIGHTERS

All four have now been holding demonstrations with supporters for 3 months now! Four cleaners against two huge companies: Willis (global insurance brokers) and Mitie Cleaning & Support Services.

The next one tomorrow will start at Wilis and will head off around 13.30 to HBO, 33 Old Broad Stret EC2 where all four had been working for Mitie as well.:

Friday 08 May

1300 hours

Willis Building, 51 Lime Street, London EC3M 7DQ

(tube: Liverpool Street / Bank; bus 25)

Information: Edwin 07931 464 890 or Alberto 07803 634 319